Middle gray, or middle grey, is the color that is perceptually half way between white and black. This is often used for calibrating optical equipment and printers. Intuitively, this would be 50% white and 50% black as represented by 50% luminance. However, the resulting color from this mix is supposedly perceived as a light grey. As such, in domains such as photography a far darker color is used for middle grey by calculating the geometric mean between white and black. This results in a shade with 12.91% luminance. However, there is also a culture and tradition of using other colors as middle gray. For example, newspaper printing historically used 18% luminance as a reference point for calibrating printing equipment known as a gray card. This is still used as middle gray by various color systems. Likewise, color systems often have their own middle gray based on their own math or reference points for black and white. The following are common examples of middle gray colors.
12.74 % Luminance
17.79 % Luminance
18.12 % Luminance
49.69 % Luminance
Color is a result of human perception. As such, which color above do you perceive as half way between the white and black?On a digital screen the brightness of colors is massively influenced by the brightness of your screen. Change your screen brightness to different levels and the greys above will look very different. This is one of the reasons that people are often disappointed with the colors of items purchases on ecommerce sites as their screen was too dark or too bright when they viewed it.As you can see from the chart above, the HTML/CSS color space can't exactly represent important middle grey colors such as 18% grey card or the geometric mean of white and black of 12.91%.Middle grey is essentially a technical term. The similar term medium grey can be used to describe colors that are close to middle gray that may be tinged with color.
This is the complete list of articles we have written about color palettes.
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